English 250

Research Seminar: Modernism and the City

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
4 Spring 2006 Snyder, Katherine
Snyder, Katherine
Thurs. 3:30-6:30 201 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

"To be selected from the following (consult the course syllabus, available at the first class, before buying your books!): Auster, P.: City of Glass; Dos Passos, J.: Manhattan Transfer or The Big Money; Fitzgerald, F.S.: The Great Gatsby; Eliot, T.S.: The Waste Land; Hughes, L.: The Ways of White Folks; Larsen, N.: Passing; Stein, G.: The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas; Toomer, J.: Cane; Woolf, V.: Mrs. Dalloway

If time permits, we will also view and discuss several ?city symphony? films, such as Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand?s ?Manhatta? (1921), Walter Ruttman?s ?Berlin? (1927), and Dziga Vertov?s ?Man with the Movie Camera? (1929). We will supplement these texts with a photocopied course reader containing poetry, short stories, and critical and theoretical essays; among those likely to be included are Poe, Whitman, Simmel, Baudelaire, Benjamin, Eliot, Joyce, Calvino, Barthes, R. Williams, Jameson, Michael North, and Susan Stanford Friedman. "


Skyscrapers and subways, crowds and solitary strollers, cacophony and kaleidoscope?the modern city provoked, both urged onward and challenged, the makers of literary modernism. We will investigate how a handful of more-or-less canonical modernist writers of the 1920s and 30s, as well as a few postmodernist ones, responded to the urbanism associated with twentieth-century life. What plots and themes, what narrative forms and rhetorical devices, what stylistic experiments and formal innovations were employed to ?make it new? in the modern city? We will consider representations of a number of key modern cities including London, Paris, Dublin, and New York, especially the Bohemian enclaves within these cities?Bloomsbury, the Left Bank, Greenwich Village, and Harlem?that were so crucial to the making of modernism. We will also read theoretical and literary critical essays to buttress our understanding of urbanism, the figure of the flaneur, modernity and modernism, the modern and the postmodern, private and public spaces, coteries and salons, cosmopolitanism and nationalism, immigration and migration, and the role of gender and race in the production of modernist literature and culture. Requirements: several shorter writing assignments, an annotated bibliography, and at least one oral report, culminating in a longer seminar paper.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

Back to Semester List